Here’s some exciting news… our family became an ‘official’ family of six this year!
And as I am sure you can imagine, with a family of six, certain expenses go up. But of course, as you know, Aaron and I are always looking for ways to spend less, and we’ve discovered a few new tips and tricks to keep things affordable.
Whether you have a family of six or a party of one, these tips should help you keep more money in your pocket without making you feel like you’re giving up on all the fun.
- Use reward credit cards whenever possible. We know Dave Ramsey would disagree, but if you are living by your budget and making financially responsible decisions, reward credit cards can be a great way to score free hotel rooms and free air travel for dollars you would have to spend anyway. We have used an IHG rewards credit card and have a Southwest and Hilton Hotels card that we are currently using to stock up on free rooms and travel this year. Just make sure you pay off the full balance each month so you don’t get charged interest.
- Eat meals at home. Eating at a restaurant is CRAZY expensive with a family of six – especially when two of those people are pre-teen boys. Our family loves to go out to eat and order in, so this is one area we can sometimes go over on in terms of budget. But we prioritize eating at home and aim to eat at restaurants just once per week. To keep costs down even further we always keep an eye out for coupons to our favorite restaurants and save our receipts. If you scan them with the CoinOut app, you’ll get a few cents back after every meal.
- Skip the theater and host your own movie night at home (or find a less expensive theater). Even before COVID-19, our family preferred hosting our own movie nights at home. We pop popcorn, watch a movie on Disney+ or occasionally rent one. Going to the movies had gotten REALLY expensive – especially as a family of six! But when theater’s do eventually reopen, we’ve found that smaller theaters often charge a fraction of the price to attend a show. For example, the Crystal Theater in Crystal, MI is one we’ve discovered to be much more affordable and has a pretty current line up for us to enjoy when we do want that movie-going experience.
- Use money saving apps. I (Kati) currently have 13 money saving apps on my phone. These range from cash back apps I use while grocery shopping to games that pay me for playing with gift cards. It may sound like a lot, but they are so easy to use – often just scanning my receipts when I get home from the store. So far this year, I’ve gotten $260.02 back using these apps.
- Shop for birthdays and holidays throughout the year. Last year we stumbled on an amazing clearance sale in early January and were able to stock up on ~50% of our gifts for the year. I’m not going to lie though, this takes a bit of planning and thinking ahead. But if you can keep an eye out for a good deal and keep in mind who you need to shop for, this can be a great way to stay within your gift budget AND give some pretty great gifts for birthdays, Christmas and other celebrations too.
- Consider getting a membership to your local museums and zoos. This is one of my favorite travel hacks – most museums and zoos offer reciprocal memberships to other zoos and museums, which means you can go to a lot of them across the country for free or at a reduced rate. We were planning a spring break trip to Gatlinburg before COVID-19 hit and planned to visit the zoo in Knoxville. With our membership here at our local zoo, we would have gotten 50% off our general admission. Way more affordable than many of the excursions around.
- Visit the library to take advantage of FREE books, activities and more. The library is one of my favorite places because its such a great resource for every single person in a community. In fact, I (Kati) am honored to serve on the board of our local library system, the Chippewa River District Library. If you haven’t been to your local library in awhile, you might be surprised to find that they don’t just offer books for you to borrow, but STEM kits and other educational resources too – including digital ones you might be able to take advantage of even if your library is closed right now. When at the library, be sure to check out their calendar of events – there are always a lot of fun free ways to spend time together at the library.
- Keep an eye out for FREE family friendly activities in your local community or offered online. Follow local community pages on Facebook or keep up with our posts for events and activities that are easy on the wallet. This is a great way to not waste the weekend and have fun with others whether in person or remotely.
- Shop for gently used kids clothes at resale shops or consider setting up a clothing swap event with a local moms group. Kids grow through clothes SO fast and it makes little sense to spend a lot of money on something they will wear for such a short period of time. We’ve had great success finding clothes for our kids at resale shops. You may also save money by connecting with a local moms group and setting up a clothing swap event either in person or virtually. Everyone brings their gently used clothes that their kids have grown out of and swaps them for clothes their kids need now.
- Ditch the paper towel. If your kids are like ours, they spill things… a lot. One way to save a little extra cash? Ditch the paper towels for regular towels. Reuse them for all the spills and save a little money in the process.
We’re still figuring out how to make the most of our budget now that our family has grown. What are your favorite family-friendly money saving tips?